Thank you for visiting our website to learn more about our special program. At Open High, we aim to grow great human beings who are committed to making the world a better place. Our small personal setting and emphasis on curiosity, creativity, and community, allow students to develop into their best selves while pursuing a college preparatory education. The Open faculty are committed to making learning experiences meaningful and building trusting relationships with both students and families. We are proud to be consistently ranked among the best public high schools in the region and the state. If you wish to learn more about an Open High education, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
Clary Carleton, Principal
In 1971, a group of parents from the Richmond community went to the Richmond School Board and presented a plan for the formation of an alternative school in the city. This school was to utilize the community as the classroom to have a few full-time teachers who performed the work of teacher/coordinator/counselor, and to use community resources for classrooms and teachers, and therefore not need a high budget, high maintenance building.
This appealed to the School Board and the charter was granted. Open High School became the first of several alternative schools in the city. The school opened in 1972 with Joe Hamilton as the Administrative Coordinator and Social Studies teacher. The building was above what is now the Richmond Chamber of Commerce on Franklin Street. Classrooms were located in the Second Presbyterian Church, Centenary United Methodist Church, the Red Door Restaurant, Virginia Union University, and other community locations. Students wrote a constitution, which allowed for Families instead of homerooms, classes throughout the city, bus tickets instead of the yellow school bus, Town Meeting twice a month, student representatives who ran the school, and an application procedure for any student who lived in the City of Richmond.
Mr. Alveston Taylor soon joined the staff as Administrative Coordinator, and was followed by Iris Metts who served as principal. In 1978 Brenda Arrington, a Social Studies teacher became the principal and she stayed on the job until 1998.
Ms. Arrington, later Mrs. Drew, saw the school through three moves: to 00 Clay Street, to the vacated Maggie Walker Building, and to 600 South Pine Street in the Grace Arents Building, the current location since 1989. In the 1999-2000 school year, the late Priscilla Green became principal of Open High School until her death in May 2008. Ms. Green paved the way for high achievement at Open High School. Through her leadership, Open High School became nationally recognized as a top school in U.S. News & World Report’s annual listing and as a National Blue Ribbon School for 2008. Candace Veney-Chaplin, was appointed in July 2008 after seven years as a Social Studies teacher at Open. Peter Glessman, served as a social studies teacher at Open High School from 1997-2000 and was appointed in July 2012.-June 2015. After three years as principal of Thomas Jefferson High School, Candace Veney-Chaplin returned to the role of principal of Open High School in July 2015. After teaching English at Open for 20 years, Clary Carleton became principal in the fall of 2019.
The Open High Dispositions
Perseverance: Persistence and Resilience. The willingness to work through difficult tasks or situations. The ability to remain whole through adversity.
Intellectual Curiosity: The desire to explore topics further. A questioning mind.
Interpersonal Skills: The ability to work well with others. A sense of open-mindedness. Strong listening skills.
Community Engagement: A participatory nature. Commitment to OHS community values such as volunteerism, class and town meeting attendance. A willingness to give back.
Self-Advocacy: A person who can ask for what they need. The ability to speak up for one’s needs and desires.
Creativity: Original expression of any kind. The ability to think “outside the box” to dream of better or different ways of being and doing.
Organization: The ability to create systems that ensure the completion of tasks in a timely manner. Organization includes punctuality, time management and study skills.
Self-Reflection: The ability to recognize personal strengths and weaknesses and to create goals for improvement based on an honest understanding of self.
Articulation: An effective communicator. A person who thinks before they speak, then speaks clearly and confidently.
10. Responsibility: The display of self-governing behaviors. Accountability to systems and ideas that define individuals, our school, our school division, our community and our nation.